Off-topic: I’ve been gone for the past few weeks for my wedding and honeymoon (thank you), but now the site will be charging full-bore toward the start of college football season. Appreciate everyone for continuing to stop by — even during my absence — and rest assured, we’ve got plenty of content set for the next few weeks.
Less than three weeks until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Through the early part of North Carolina’s 2012 schedule (the very easy part), you didn’t know what to think of then-freshman wide receiver Quinshad Davis. His first four games yielded just 11 catches and a little over 100 yards, plus zero touchdowns. But over the next eight games, it was an entirely different story. Maybe even more so than tight end Eric Ebron, Davis was the Heels’ top receiving target for the rest of the season, nabbing 50 catches, 665 yards and five touchdowns. His final three games in particular were a show of force for what may be to come for the rising ACC wideout. In three stellar team offensive performances, he had 32 catches, 417 yards and three scores. So yes, his production may have appeared to be spiked by a few great games. But it’s easy to see how this could be a harbinger of some exciting things to come.
Part of that is due to the team’s quick transition to coach Larry Fedora’s spread offense. After it appeared there would be a slight learning curve for the group of formerly pro-style players, they wound up averaging over 40 points per game and looked to get stronger as the season progressed. In just 12 games, the team ran 898 plays (nothing too stellar), but averaged a highly efficient 6.49 yards per (tied for 14th in the country). For 2013, Fedora wants to go faster. If they manage to, while still maintaining that level of efficiency, that offense becomes nearly impossible to stop, and makes it much easier for Davis (and his fellow receivers) to find holes in opposing defenses likely to already be on their heels.
Davis’s huge advantage comes from his size (6’4″), but what’ll be interesting this season is whether or not he can boost his speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash time) a bit to take full advantage of it — it appeared he started to put it all together late in 2012. If he finds a bit more speed, suddenly he’s in the same conversation as fellow ACC deep options like Maryland‘s Stefon Diggs and Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins. He can still succeed as a mid-yardage option, of course. But really, his biggest asset would be serving the team’s big need for a deep-play receiver. Again — he’s going to be one of the conference’s more impressive wideouts either way. Just taking a look at how he can go from one of the ACC’s “better” to one of its “best” pass-catchers.